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war cry

looking up while looking down
You know it’s springtime when the sidewalks and driveways of America have been doodled on, drawn on, hopscotched, and John Hancocked with every imaginable pastel color of sidewalk chalk. These kids — Van Goghs, Gilbert Stuarts, and Salvadore Dalis, they are — probably don’t even realize that they are subverting the very state that mandates they sit behind desks for eight hours a day, “learning.” The state tells them they can do anything in the world!, but the kids surely don’t believe it when they’re chained to an uncomfortable chair and told to shut up. So they keep quiet and wait for it all to end.

Don’t worry, kids. It ends eventually, and the revolution begins. Trade those pencils and worksheets for some sidewalk chalk and a concrete canvas — now, anything is possible. What can be created will be. Today I toured the Raymond Sidewalk Art Gallery and admired many works: flowers, birds, peace signs, the written expression “Whoop Whoop,” and even a few scrawled names (defiant declarations of ego, how dare they!).

Liberty is alive and well and all you have to do is look down.

art is dangerous
“Art is dangerous,” writes the journalist John Rappoport. “[I]magination…throws caution to the winds. It invents realities that engender new reactions, never before experienced. It blows apart old rigid perceptions.”

But more importantly, he writes, it pisses off statists. “Those who run things — and their willing dupes — want reality to look a certain way and be experienced and felt in certain ways. These limited spectra form a shared lowest common denominator.” One can “experience” this mundane white-walled evil waste of humanity’s time, filled with the sad-sack lowest common denominator collective, at any government institution: a public school, the line at the DMV, or, hell, even on public access television.

[Quick aside: I did have a few teachers in high school who encouraged creativity and free-thinking much more than they probably were expected to. One teacher was infamous for never taking down any drawings students had made for various assignments. The room was an art museum — and the most free-speech zone in the entire building, as well.]

Rappoport gives us hope: “[I]ndividual creative power launches from a platform of freedom and rises through layer after layer of greater freedom.”

I spent some time observing the kids as they drew those peace signs and the “Whoop Whoop.” (Is it a raging dance party “Whoop Whoop” or the native americans’ revolting against their new oppressors war cry? I can’t help but hope it’s both…)

I smiled at the exuberant spirit of life each one exuded. Jumping off stairwells; hopping railings; racing across the common like the unleashed wildlife they are; vandalizing government “property” with tiny pink and blue weapons. Public school attempts to kill that spirit — all the better to control them and to profit from them down the road: thoughtless, complacent workers.

If it takes more sidewalk chalk to smash the state, then let me be first to donate all the sidewalk chalk I can afford to the young, wily anarchists out there.

allow us to live liberty
Not only does the act of creating make individuals more free, but the positive externality that art bestows on others is just as powerful.

Wendy McElroy writes in the introduction to Young Pioneers on the need for art — in this specific example, the novel: “Theory and history are essential to an understanding of individual liberty but novels allow us to live liberty through the eyes and actions of characters who touch our emotions as well as our minds.”

In all of my days as a young libertarian, I have hardly harbored a single soul from its attachment to government’s tide by arguing the hard facts. I’m learning, however, that through pictures and words, poetry and prose, the reactions favorable to liberty are stronger, more potent, and everlasting.

Why is that? Well, as McElroy points out, the novel (and, I think, any form of art) can become more real than life itself. It becomes a “valued companion.” Once it’s personal, it’s life changing.

But, hey, as I took photos of sidewalk chalk peace signs under the blowing American flag, I got a few odd looks. I just laughed and jumped off the stairwell and hopped over the railing. I almost ran, but that camera is fragile. It isn’t a toy! Kids play with toys.

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peace and love

layer after layer of greater freedom!
TAC blogger Rod Dreher has decided to share art with his young children. It might sound like heavy bedtime reading, but his kids were happily subjected to Dante’s Inferno, and later, The Law of God. His daughter decided to create some art, herself: she draws what she imagines from the readings.

You can follow the link and forage his blogs about Dante for adorable drawings on topics that most adults have never heard of, but first read Dreher’s observation of his doodling, young daughter. I will let you make your own conclusion about the power of art, imagination, and liberty: “She does this every time I read a chapter of the catechism to them. I hadn’t thought about it till tonight, but the fact that she’s drawing out an interpretation of [what] I’m teaching them shows that she really is taking it into her imagination, and learning it.”

Take to the streets, you young radicals.